Lessons In Chemistry and Physics From A Toddler

1) 1st Law of Thermodynamics — the energy of the universe is constant. That is to say, if one system or object gains energy, another system or object must have lost energy. As the day progresses, I steadily lose energy, and W steadily becomes more and more energetic.

2) 2nd Law of Thermodynamics — entropy is always increasing. “Entropy” is a fancy chemical word for disorder. ‘Nuff said.

3) Processes are reversible. However, a process that occurs spontaneously in one direction requires an input of energy in the reverse direction, and vice versa. It takes me significant effort to clean up the house. W can take it apart again with no apparent expenditure of energy.

4) Macromolecules bind to one another via an “induced fit” rather than a “lock and key” mechanism. If you pound hard enough, you can get the square peg into the round hole.

5) The laws of the macroscopic universe are constant, and effects are predictable and reproducible. When W squeezes the fruit smoothie pouch, fruit smoothie comes boiling out all over the floor. Every. Single. Time.

6) The most damaging types of radiation are undetectable by humans. Beware the silent toddler.

7) The true nature of a particle is a mathematic combination of all possible states of that particle. Like Schrodinger’s cat, a toddler can exist in multiple (and completely oppositional) states at once. Like ecstatic and enraged. Or exhausted and wired.

8 ) The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that it’s impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same time. This is because the act of measuring the position affects the momentum, and vice versa. Similarly, the very act of checking up on a toddler’s current activity affects the toddler’s next action, making it impossible to predict with any certainty what said toddler might do next.

9) Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion — every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When W throws herself on the floor of the grocery store and starts screaming and ripping all her clothes off in an attempt to get me to pick her up, all I want to do is run. Far. Away.

10) Gravity. It works.

 

What lessons in the physical sciences has your child taught you?

 

 

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jem
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:37:48

    Haha, so true.

    Reply

  2. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 08:54:01

    Conservation of mass: mass cannot be created or destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space and changed into different types of particles. What goes in T’s mouth must come out. Usually in the form of a massive mess up his back requiring a bath and an outfit change.

    Reply

  3. Annie
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 19:51:16

    I have nothing nearly this smart or funny to add, but am just grateful that someone has found reasoning behind my son’s exasperating behavior. However, can I commission you to study the science governing my dog’s horrible behavior?

    Reply

  4. Ariane
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:28:19

    I love #6. My toddler tests gravity all the time 🙂 Somebody has to check that it’s still working, right?

    Reply

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